2 years ago
Admissions Advice

How do I properly prepare and study for the ACT?

HI my name is Erika and I am a junior in high school. I have taken the ACT once this year and it was my first time and made a composite of 21 and 22 in math and English and a 18 in Reading and a 21 in Science. I am looking to see if I can improve my scores by at least 5 points but I don't know how. I have been doing practice tests recently but it's hard for me to actually learn the material and keep it in my head. What do I do in order to help myself.

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2 answers

2 years ago[edited]

Hi Erika! I'm a junior in HS;I took the ACT in the fall and got a 35 composite on my second attempt (I got a 33 the first time). I got a 35 in english, 34 in math, 36 in reading and 33 in science. Here are some things that helped me go from a 28 to a 35! It took me about 6-8 months of prep, and I did about 5-15 hours a week over the summer (depending on the week, not including the practice tests). I tried a lot of different methods, and even tried a tutor, but here are the top things that really helped me!

1. At least once a week, I took a full length practice test (just like the real one with 5 minute breaks, timed, and in a room by myself where I wasn't disturbed). Either my parents or my sister would score the exam and report back how I did based on the scale (I normally scored between a 31-33 consistently for about 3-4 months). I think this was the most helpful part for me because I became really familiar with the style of questions and learned how to find patterns in the english and math sections that worked for me.

For each exam I took, I would circle the questions I got wrong and rework them without looking at the answer key. Once I had a second answer for each question, I would read the description in the back of the book as to why I got it wrong the first time.

2. I used the red ACT book from 2018 and 2019, as well as a Kaplan book, and a Math Panda ACT math book. This is where the majority of my time went, I did all of the practice questions and read up on the suggested strategies. I suggest the red books and the math panda if you want math help.

3. I did all 4 sections of a full test every week. For example, Monday, I would do the reading, Wednesday the math, Thursday the reading, and Saturday, the science. This helped me practice for the full practice exams I did.

4. For every question I got wrong (practice exams, book problems, etc) I would tally the topic (ie. math I split it up into sections like matrices, word problems, geometry, etc) and when I had extra time, focus on one of those topics. This helped me keep track of what I was consistently getting wrong and if I was improving.

If you have questions about what I did for specific sections and tricks I found about those, I'm happy to answer any questions, just let me know! I know these tips won't work for everyone, studying for the ACT is about personal preference. It was a lot of hard work and I spent most of my summer working towards the ACT, but the final product was truly worth it.

2 years ago

Hi there! You ask a great question! I'm a freshman, but I've taken the ACT and got a composite score of 23. I'm hoping to increase my score too, so here are the steps that I'm currently taking! It's a difficult thing to prepare for such a big test, but I'll try to advise you in the best that I can. You did a great job for your first ACT, but all the information on the test can be overwhelming.

1. Take one practice test with all the appropriate time guidelines. (You can split it up per day ex. take the reading on Monday, math on tuesday, etc.)

2. Score it

3. Go back and look at the problems you missed, and write down on a separate piece of paper a list of concepts that you need to work on in each subject. (ex for math: areas of circles, reducing fractions etc.)

4. Study each subject in depth, go back to textbooks and make flashcards of vocab/synonyms/antonyms or math concepts. Khan Academy is also extremely useful, as you can go back and study specific concepts you need help with.

5. Take another practice test and see how you did.

Optional steps:

1. Get a tutor-- there are ACT/SAT tutors out there!

2. If you struggle with the reading section, just try reading more! It will help you with the vocab as well as the reading comprehension!

Good luck with everything and let me know if you have any further questions!


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